Every since Percy announced he was going pro on January 15, the buzz surrounding the Gators has been about who is going to replace Harvin.
I've read many different opinions on how to replace Percy, but I would like to put all that to rest. The Gators will not replace Percy Harvin next year, and we may never see an athlete like him lace up the Nikes for the Gators again.
Percy was a one of a kind athlete that is seldom seen in any program. During his career, he averaged more than a first down every time he touched the ball and had 32 touchdowns over three years.
The hardest thing to replace will be his big play threat. Harvin had 24 receptions of 10 yards or more and 10 catches of 20 yards or more.
Don't get me wrong—the Gators have a bunch of guys with blazing speed, but there is not that one player who can line up both in the backfield or out at wideout and strike the same fear in defensive coordinators.
What we have to see from the Gators is a playbook change to remove the “Percy position” and divide the plays up to showcase the talent on the roster. We saw in the Alabama game that there is not a single player that can be plugged in to replace Percy.
Brandon James has been the player that the Gators have gone to when Harvin was out with injury, but James needs more open space than Harvin did, and he is not going to be able to take the ball between the tackles. The offense has to evolve this year to showcase the weapons we do have.
Due to injuries, I don't think we were able to get a true indication of what the Gators' offense will look like in 2009.
We have to get the three biggest weapons we have on the field at the same time to keep the other teams guessing where the Gators are going to strike from.
Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, and Aaron Hernandez must have packages where they are on the field at the same time. With Hernandez creating matchup nightmares in the middle of the field and the threat of a quick swing pass to Demps or Rainey in the open field, this offense could even rack up bigger numbers than last year if there is a clean No. 1 receiver.
I've written about it before, but that one X-factor needed for the Gators offense to be elite is going to hinge on a wide receiver stepping up. This spring there were flashes from Deonte Thompson and Frankie Hammond, Jr., but none of the wideouts were consistent day in and day out.
The Gator Nation has been blessed to have Percy Harvin for three years, and we will always dream about seeing another playing in The Swamp with as quick of a first step as Percy.
We'll be doing this just the same way that USC hopes for another Reggie Bush, Notre Dame tries to figure out how they got Rocket Ismail in the first place, UGA wants to make every back the next Herschel Walker, and Auburn—you can exhale, there will never be another Bo Jackson.
Oh wait, there is this kid Andre Debose...